When Fox News gossip columnist Roger Friedman caused a mini-scandal the other day by casually mentioning he'd illegally downloaded X-Men Origins: Wolverine from the Internet -- and then proceeding to review it! -- a lot of us assumed he'd get away with it. Yeah, 20th Century Fox was talking a big game about chasing pirates and punishing downloaders, but we didn't think they'd go after a high-profile writer who works for their same parent company.

Well. Seldom have I been so pleased to be wrong. As first reported by Nikke Finke on Saturday and confirmed by a statement from Fox parent company News Corporation late Saturday night, Roger Friedman has been fired. News Corp.'s statement was blunt: "We, along with 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, have been a consistent leader in the fight against piracy and have zero tolerance for any action that encourages and promotes piracy. When we advised Fox News of the facts they took immediate action, removed the post, and promptly terminated Mr. Friedman."

Having once been fired myself for making a dumb mistake, I do feel some sympathy for Friedman for having the same thing happen to him. He shouldn't have been fired for this -- he should have been fired a long time ago for generally being a boob, and for being a barnacle on the already-unseemly underbelly of entertainment journalism. (I invite you to peruse Defamer's Friedman-related archives for examples of his prior offenses.) Nailing him for this is sort of like convicting Al Capone for tax evasion. But Fox didn't have much choice. If they're going to strike real fear in the hearts of movie pirates, they need to make it clear that NO piracy will be tolerated. Friedman gave them the perfect opportunity to send this message. They're undoubtedly hoping that the people who steal movies will see this and think, "Holy crap, they even went after one of their own corporate siblings! What chance do we have?? Abort! Abort!" And they'll scurry around their under-lit basement headquarters, frantically deleting files and erasing hard drives. Fox is now like the good-guy cop in the movie who doggedly pursues the villain even though it's his own brother.